Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025274, Sun, 13 Apr 2014 14:00:30 +0300

Dr Krolik's death in Ada (part two)
Caesar, tsar and krol (Pol., "king") are related words. Seroglazyi korol' ("The Grey-Eyed King," 1910) is a famous poem by Anna Akhmatov:

Slava tebe, bezyskhodnaya bol'!
Umer vchera seroglazyi korol'.
Glory to you, the interminable pain!
The grey-eyed king died yesterday.

In one of her poems Anna Akhmatov says that her Tartar penname came from nikuda ("nowhere;" instead of the correct niotkuda).
Afanasiy Fet's poem Nikogda ("Never," 1879) begins:

Prosnulsya ya. Da, krysha groba...
I woke up. Yes, the coffin lid...

According to VN, Fet and Bunin are the only Russian poets who could "see" the butterflies (Drugie berega, Chapter Six). In Speak, Memory (chapter Six, 3) VN quotes Fet's poem "The Butterfly" (1884). Dr Krolik is a lepidopterist.

VN is the author of Korol', dama, valet ("King, Queen, Knave," 1928). Several characters in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are playing cards. Describing Mascodagama's stunt, Van mentions Ada's castle of cards:

It was Ada's castle of cards. It was the standing of a metaphor on its head not for the sake of the trick's difficulty, but in order to perceive an ascending waterfall or a sunrise in reverse: a triumph, in a sense, over the ardis of time. (1.30)

Gorenko = Oregon + k

Gorenko - Anna Akhmatov's real name
Oregon - VN's Lines Written in Oregon (1953) end in the line "Esmeralda, immer, immer" (immer - Germ., "always;" Van calls Lucette "our Esmeralda and mermaid," 2.8)

Dr Krolik's son is a ranger and breeder in the Eden National Park:

'Well,' answered Ada, straddling her favorite limb, 'as we all know by now, Mlle La Riviere de Diamants has nothing against a hysterical little girl's not wearing pantalets during l'ardeur de la canicule.'
'I refuse to share the ardor of your little canicule with an apple tree.'
'It is really the Tree of Knowledge - this specimen was imported last summer wrapped up in brocade from the Eden National Park where Dr Krolik's son is a ranger and breeder.' (1.15)

As he leaves Ardis forever, Van remembers another tree:

Maidenhair. Idiot! Percy boy might have been buried by now! Maidenhair. Thus named because of the huge spreading Chinese tree at the end of the platform. Once, vaguely, confused with the Venus'-hair fern. She walked to the end of the platform in Tolstoy's novel. First exponent of the inner monologue, later exploited by the French and the Irish. N'est vert, n'est vert, n'est vert. L'arbre aux quarante ecus d'or, at least in the fall. Never, never shall I hear again her 'botanical' voice fall at biloba, 'sorry, my Latin is showing.' Ginkgo, gingko, ink, inkog. (1.41)

Inkog + da/ad = nikogda (never)

Alexey Sklyarenko

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